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  • Beginning Monday, January 6, 2020, public and private schools that employ Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) drivers (i.e. bus drivers, etc.) will have the additional responsibility of checking the CDL Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse (“Clearinghouse”) for violations before hiring a prospective CDL driver and checking annually all then-currently employed CDL drivers for violations. 


    The testing reporting requirements for CDL drivers have not changed. Rather, the Clearinghouse creates a central repository of reports of violations of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s controlled substance and alcohol testing program for holders of CDLs. The final regulatory rules for the Clearinghouse were published in December 2016. However, it has taken years of development to establish the Clearinghouse in August 2019 and begin allowing users to register in October 2019. 


    Because the information being stored by the Clearinghouse is sensitive, the regulations contain strict parameters around who can access the information (prospective and current employers) and require consent from the individuals whose records are being accessed. The annual check only requires a limited query preceded by a signed, written, time-frame specific consent from the CDL driver. Pre-employment checks require a full query which can only be completed once the applicant CDL driver creates an account with the Clearinghouse and grants electronic consent through the Clearinghouse. 


    The regulations do allow employers to outsource both pre-employment and annual Clearinghouse inquiries, but the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) website makes clear that final responsibility for compliance rests with the employer and cannot be outsourced to a contractor. Therefore, while a vendor can perform these functions on the public or private school’s behalf, the school remains liable for compliance with all aspects of the regulations. Further, contractors that provide services relative to the Clearinghouse have independent liability under the regulations for their conduct. Therefore, any service contracts should be reviewed carefully to ensure the contractor does not attempt to assign their liability to the school.


    You can find additional information at https://clearinghouse.fmcsa.dot.gov/. Further, most of the relevant federal regulations are housed at 49 CFR 382 Subpart G, which you can access at www.ecfr.gov


    If you have any questions or need further guidance, please contact Dr. Sarah Flournoy at 817.339.2417 or sflournoy@belaw.com; or any of our school law attorneys.  



    Comments (-1)

    Unfortunately, neither DPS nor ESC Region 11 can assist with the website, since the website belongs to the FMCSA.

    Please do not panic. January 6, 2020, is not a deadline for drivers to be registered. It is a start date for the clearinghouse. 

    Just keep trying.

    Comments (-1)
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Transportation Newsletter

Important Information from DPS:

  • October 2019

    Beginning January 6, 2020, all school districts and all employers of CDL holders (charter schools, trucking companies, bus charter companies, government entities, etc.) and all CDL holders (includes school bus drivers and white fleet drivers who hold a CDL) will be required to register in the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse.

    The Clearinghouse is a secure online database that will give employers, The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), state driver licensing agencies, and state law enforcement personnel real-time information about Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) and Commercial Learner’s Permit (CLP) holders’ drug and alcohol program violations.

    The Clearinghouse will contain records of violation of drug and alcohol prohibitions in 49 CFR Part 382, Subpart B, including positive drug or alcohol test results and test refusals. When a driver completes the return-to-duty process and follow-up testing plan, this information will also be recorded in the Clearinghouse.

    Employers will be required to run a query on all new hires who either have a CDL or will be applying for a CLP to get a CDL. Employers will also be required to run an annual query on all existing CDL holders.

    In addition to employers registering for the Clearinghouse, all CDL holders must register as well. CDL holders must give electronic consent to their employer(s) to run a query. CDL holders that have a second job driving a commercial motor vehicle that requires a CDL will also need to give that employer electronic consent to run a query as well. Please pass this information along to all drivers who hold a CDL so that they are aware of the Clearinghouse and registering.

    The FAQ section of the Clearinghouse website has a lot of helpful information so please refer to that if you have questions. For more information on the Clearinghouse, please visit https://clearinghouse.fmcsa.dot.gov/.

    IMPORTANT:  Please be advised that this is a federal rule required by FMCSA. It is not a state rule and definitely not a rule that my office is requiring. Federal rules trump all state rules, so everyone must comply. There are no exemptions from the Clearinghouse.

    Thank you,

    Christie Hebert

    Texas Department of Public Safety

    Texas Highway Patrol Division

    School Bus Transportation Program

    (512) 424-7396

    Comments (-1)

  • July 2019

    My office has been educating troopers and other law enforcement agencies of what each school bus driver must have in order to be eligible to drive a school bus. If a driver is pulled over for whatever reason, the officer will be asking them for proof of certification. If the driver is not able to present either a valid Enrollment, Certification or Recertification card, they could be ticketed for not having proof they are certified. Please be sure you are reminding the districts in your area that their drivers must carry the card at all times and cannot drive until they have that card in their possession.

    If a transportation director has not received bus cards from the ESC in a timely manner (two-three weeks maximum in the summer), then they need to  follow up with the ESC.

    Transportation directors, when a driver signs up for a recertification class, you must verify that the driver is eligible to take the recertification class. We recently had a driver take a recertification class and was issued the recertification card. The driver had been expired for almost two years.

    As always, thank y'all for everything you do! Please don’t hesitate to email or call me if you ever have any questions.

    Thanks again,

    Christie Hebert

    Texas Department of Public Safety

    Texas Highway Patrol Division

    School Bus Transportation Program

    (512) 424-7396DPS

    Comments (-1)

  • May 2019

    With more and more school districts purchasing smaller buses, I wanted to send the following information to address the requirements:

    • The only bus to be used to transport students home-to-school/school-to-home is the yellow school bus.
    • The white activity bus (or any other color that is not yellow) is NOT allowed to be used for home to school/school to home even if the bus is equipped with loading lights and a stop arm.

    CDL for all type buses regardless of the color - School Bus, Multi-Function School Activity Bus (MFSAB), School Activity Bus

                   24 passengers including the driver or more – Class B CDL with proper endorsements.

                                  P endorsement is required for all buses.

                                  S endorsement is required for operating a school bus. To obtain the S endorsement, driver                                 must test in the yellow school bus.

                                  S endorsement is not required for an MFSAB or activity bus.


                   16 – 23 passengers including the driver – Class C CDL with proper endorsements.

                                  P endorsement is required for all buses.

                                  S endorsement is required for operating a school bus. To obtain the S endorsement, driver                                must test in the yellow school bus.

                                  S endorsement is not required for an MFSAB or activity bus.


                   15 passengers including the driver or less – no CDL or endorsements required (endorsements only                    go on a CDL)


    20-Hour and 8-Hour Certification and Recertification Courses

                   Applicable to all school bus drivers driving a school bus, MFSAB, and school activity bus,                                   even if a CDL is not required.

                   A student taking the course who does not have a CDL cannot drive the bus on a public roadway.


    Medical Card (annual physical)

                   Applicable to all school bus drivers driving a school bus, MFSAB, and school activity bus ,                                   even if a CDL is not required.


    Bus Driver Penalty Points Tables

                   Applicable to all drivers transporting students, regardless of the vehicle.

                   This also includes a coach/teacher/driver who might be transporting students in the school district                    suburban, for example, or any other passenger vehicle.


    Feel free to contact me if you have any questions.



    Christie Hebert

    Texas Department of Public Safety

    Texas Highway Patrol Division

    School Bus Transportation Program

    (512) 424-7396



    Comments (-1)

News and Events

  • Policy Changes Effective January 1, 2018

    Attention districts/contractors scheduling a 20-hour Texas School Bus Driver Certification or an 8-hour Texas School Bus Driver Recertification course: Over the last 17 months, the ESC Region 11 Transportation Department has received hundreds of “password request” calls and emails from district personnel attempting to register for upcoming classes. To help drivers and transportation directors register participants more easily and efficiently, ESC Region 11 is issuing a new policy regarding the use of passwords assigned to bus driver training sessions. Beginning
    January 1, 2018, districts or contractors that schedule a training session and request that we add a password to the class will have ten (10) business days from the time the class is posted on the ESC Region 11 website (www.esc11.net) to enroll drivers. After 10 working days, the transportation director will be notified and the password will be removed, allowing drivers from other districts to register.Note:  This policy does not apply to a district/contractor that requests a closed, password-protected class, where the district guarantees that all 30 seats will be filled by the host district.

    Policy and Fee Changes Effective September 1, 2018

    Please review the information below and make a note of the following changes to policy and fees regarding transportation certification classes. District “Holds” on Training Classes – One of the perks that we offer school districts that host a bus driver training class is the option to “hold” (or restrict) registrations to participants from the hosting district, unless the district notifies us to open up any unused seats for other outside participants. Many school districts contact ESC Region 11 on a daily basis asking to enroll a driver in one of the restricted eight-hour or 20-hour bus safety classes. We politely inform them that seats in those classes are being held by the hosting district, and that we will let them know if any of those seats are released. Unfortunately, we are experiencing situations where a hosting district does not release the unfilled seats (or releases them too late), and we do not have a full roster of registered drivers for the session. If seats go unfilled, drivers across the region lose an opportunity to be certified/recertified. ESC Region 11 trains hundreds of drivers throughout the summer months, and we believe that every driver is valuable and should have an opportunity to attend and occupy a vacant seat. 
    In order to address this concern while still honoring the priority status of our hosting districts, we are implementing a new “hold” policy. Beginning August 1, 2017, districts requesting a bus driving class (eight-hour recertification or twenty-hour certification) must release all unfilled seats at least ten (10) working days prior to the start date of the class or agree to pay the registration fees for all class seats (35). Districts requesting to host a class (password protect) that will not be filled by hosting district drivers have ten (10) working days to register drivers. At the end of the ten-day period, the password will be removed and outside districts and charters will be able to register drivers. It is the hosting district's responsibility to check the ESC Region 11 website www.esc11.net to see when classes are posted. 

    Registration Fee Changes

    Beginning September 1, 2018, the registration fee for an eight-hour recertification class will be $70 per person. The registration fee for a 20-hour certification class will be $130 per person. This $5 increase per class will allow us to cover our expenses and continue to provide you with quality trainers who will help prepare your drivers to operate your fleet.
    Other potential fees: Walk-in $25 (driver not preregistered). Make-up fee is $30.
    As always, districts requesting to host a class guarantee a minimum of twenty (20) participants. If that minimum is not reached, the requesting district is responsible to pay for the remaining seats.  
    New Medical Certification Requirements: 
    (online course through TEEX)